Recovery, Chronic Fatigue and Depression (Part II)

Healthy diet
I have diabetes mellitus, type 2, and am overweight. My glucose was too high so I worked with a dietician to get on a proper healthy diet. For people with diabetes, the hemoglobin A1C test results should be under 7; mine were. After a couple years I went to another dietician for more refined work in diet management. My typical menu is—
Breakfast Lunch and dinner Bedtime snack
1 c. juice 4 oz. protein I tend to lose my grip
1 c. cereal ½ c. starch and go bonkers
½ c. fruit 2/3 c. vegetables
1 c. 2% milk ½ c. ice cream

I learned that there is a hormone that increases your appetite when you are tired. Your body is basically saying “If you are not going to let me get energy from sleep then you’ve got to let me get energy from more food.” Eight hours sleep at night and two one-hour naps during the day weren’t enough to curb my appetite at night.

Creative expression
Creativity knits together mind, spirit and emotions. It draws on memories of the past and hopes for the future. It integrates and heals the human being.
My choice of creative expression always has been writing. By November 2010, I was writing two thousand-word blogs every day, one for “Behind the Locked Doors” [] about depression and the treatment thereof. The other blog, “Notes in Passing” [] is about everything else that I find interesting.

I joined an exercise class designed by Dr. Dale Avers, a physical therapist on the faculty of Upstate Medical University. It was for people between 55 and 92 years of age, particularly those who wanted to stay out of nursing homes. With great good spirit, we exercised hard for one hour twice a week. We were not sissies who sat in chairs and waved our arms around: we got down on the floor and worked up a sweat. By mid-2007, on a good day, I could walk a mile.

I come from a long line of farmers and my mother was an avid gardener. Around 2004, I got down on my knees and started gardening. There is nothing quite so healing as re-uniting with Mother Nature and finding the place where you fit in the greater scheme of things. Spiders are not allowed to live in my home; outdoors, I am not allowed to kill spiders. The time I spent talking to the worms was some of the best time in my life.

Caring for others
If you are not caring for others—and you are alive—then you are failing in your responsibilities as a human being. Everybody can do something, even if it is only bringing a smile to your caregivers. I could do much more than that: despite all my woes, God had given me intelligence and the capacity to think logically. I also had unlimited telephone service, a computer and a hospital bed. That was enough.

I became an activist on behalf of those who were poor and/or sick and/or elderly, particularly in regard to transportation. I took on the bus company (which had an annual budget of $40 million) because its paratransit subsidiary was providing substandard service to its 4000 riders. I took on Medicaid transportation, which was billing $8 million for equally substandard service to its 22,000 riders in Onondaga County. It took me seven years but the bus company had to buy half a million dollars’ worth of new short buses and completely revamp its eligibility process. The Medicaid transportation dispatch company got fined $80,000 and forced to sign the first-ever Corporate Integrity Agreement in New York State.

Here and there, working on my phone and computer from my hospital bed, I accomplished a few other things, too. []

And I had cured my depression. After 40 years of depression and 26 years of antidepressants, I no longer took drugs, saw a therapist or a psychiatrist, or got hospitalized. The cure for depression is action. Any time anything makes you feel bad, figure out what it is and then take action to change it. You can do it; I did.

And then, without me noticing it, it all began to go to hell. First, I no longer had enough energy to continue exercising. I blamed it on my living circumstances. I was living in a HUD-subsidized apartment building exclusively for people who were disabled. I’m sorry, but that’s fucking against the law. It’s called “segregation.” After much work, I established contact with the HUD field office director in Buffalo who understood the problem and said he would come take a look as soon a winter let up and it was safe to drive. Instead, Barak Obama got elected president and all the good guys got moved up one step. The good field director was replaced by a consummate bureaucratic asshole who couldn’t see the problem.

The 24-unit property was being managed by Christopher Community, the housing branch of the Catholic Church. They went through six managers in five years, ending with an ex-military bitch who told one middle-aged disabled man, “I couldn’t make my kids clean their rooms but I can make you.” I did everything I could think of to change the situation. Ultimately, there was nothing I could do except wait for a chance to move out. I believed that I had no energy because I was depressed and that once I changed my living situation then I would get un-depressed and my energy would come back.

I had learned that the cause of depression is the perception of powerlessness; once I got my power back then I would be all right.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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